WomensHistoryReads interview: Sarah McCoy

Today I'm delighted to add to the #WomensHistoryReads series with this interview with Sarah McCoy: New York Times bestselling author, deft weaver of past and present plotlines, walking ray of sunshine. I've been fortunate enough to cross paths with Sarah many times over the years, online and off, and I'm particularly excited about her next project -- about which more below. Without further ado:

Sarah McCoy

Sarah McCoy

Greer: Tell us about a woman from the past who has inspired your writing.

Sarah: Sarah Brown, the unmarried daughter of abolitionist John Brown. She was a highly-educated woman, an artist, a teacher, honorary mother to an orphanage of children, and a quiet powerhouse in the abolitionist movement’s Underground Railroad. Yet, history records virtually nothing about her. Her enigmatic existence inspired me to write The Mapmaker’s Children. I felt compelled to flush out her story and tell it forward to future generations of women.

Greer: What book, movie or TV show would your readers probably be surprised to find out you love?

Sarah: "Star Trek." Yes, that’s right, I’m a closet Trekkie and science-fiction fan. I grew up watching the old 1966 series with my dad. The adventures of Captain Kirk, Spock, Lieutenant Uhura, and Dr. “Bones” McCoy were my TV bread and butter. It was also one of the few shows I remember seeing with women taking charge of the helm and carrying phasers while embracing their femininity. I thought it brilliant. To this day, my heart races when I hear the opening theme song. It promises an exciting story where “no man has gone before.” That message has been instilled in me. All grown up, I'm still looking for stories that delve into distinctly female topics where no man has gone before.

Greer: Right there with you! What’s your next book about and when will we see it?

Sarah: My next book is titled Marilla of Green Gables. It’s the story of Marilla Cuthbert, the beloved, adoptive mother of Anne Shirley from the Anne of Green Gables series. There’s a resurgence of Anne captivation these days, and I love to see it. I, too, am an earnest Anne fan. It was the first book I remember my mom reading to me. Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Green Gables formed my earliest imaginings, and I never quite left the farm. The 1985 television series blew my mind. I was eternally devoted to Megan Follows’ Anne and Colleen Dewhurst’s Marilla. Even begging for a puffed-sleeve dress at Christmas and having a Green Gables birthday tea party.

As a younger reader, I felt every bit a kindred to Anne. Now older, I’ve grown into a particular fondness for Marilla. I see myself in her and have always been fascinated by her mysterious past. How did she end up a spinster at Green Gables? What happened between her and John Blythe? I thought it high time we got answers. So I set myself to the challenge: rereading the first handful of Anne books in the series that include Marilla; learning the history of the Canadian Maritimes prior to Anne’s arrival; researching Lucy Maud Montgomery’s childhood, family, and life; traveling to Prince Edward Island to walk in her world, in Anne and Marilla’s world, too.

The novel releases from William Morrow/HarperCollins on October 23, 2018, and I can honestly say that out of all the books I’ve written, this is my favorite. It was more than just writing. It was a calling and a responsibility to do right by Lucy Maud Montgomery’s legacy and Marilla’s story at long last.

Thanks for having me on this fun series in honor of Women’s History Month, my dear Greer!

Greer: Aw. Thanks for participating!

Sarah: And my question for you -- Girl in Disguise was such an intriguing look at a nearly forgotten historical figure, Kate Warne. What historical figure do we think we know publicly, but you believe has an enigmatic story yet untold? 

Greer: I've been doing some reading lately on Marie Curie, and I feel like there's a general perception of her as brilliant but kind of one-dimensional -- devoted only to science, working herself literally to death in pursuit of scientific discovery, part of the dry, historic past. And her scientific achievements were incredible. But she was also a living, breathing woman, and a few years after she lost the love of her life in a freak accident, she became embroiled in a sex scandal so outrageous she once returned from a conference to find a torch-wielding mob waiting outside her house. I want to dig into that story.

Tune in tomorrow for the next in the #WomensHistoryReads series of interviews!


SARAH McCOY is the New York TimesUSA Today, and international bestselling author of Marilla of Green Gables (forthcoming from William Morrow); The Mapmaker’s Children; The Baker’s Daughter, a 2012 Goodreads Choice Award Best Historical Fiction nominee; the novella “The Branch of Hazel” in Grand Central; and The Time It Snowed in Puerto Rico.

Her work has been featured in Real Simple, The Millions, Your Health Monthly, Huffington Post, Read It Forward, Writer Unboxed, and other publications. She has taught English writing at Old Dominion University and at the University of Texas at El Paso. She lives with her husband, an orthopedic sports surgeon, and their dog, Gilly, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Connect with Sarah on Twitter and Instagram at @SarahMMcCoy, on her Facebook Fan Page, Goodreads, or via her website, www.sarahmccoy.com.